August 31, 2015

The World; Yesterday and Today--The Bible Covers It All

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson
As a cradle Catholic who went to twelve years of Catholic school "waaaaay" back in the '50s and '60s, I can say without hesitation that my education in the Bible and about the Bible and of the Bible was almost non-existent. The Catechism with its nays & yays and right & wrong dominated the conversation. However, over the past ten years or so I have come to honor and respect the Bible. It took me all those decades to realize how profound and so magnificently in our faces with truths this book, written so long ago, is. The seven Wisdom books alone are worth more than all the jewels on Pharaoh's crown.
Back to the 'truths' I mentioned. The other day, August 26, the gospel reading was from Matthew 23: 27-32. I believe this gospel actually references today's world and the egotistical and self-centered mindset that so many people have embraced. Countless people have stomped on the goodness within God's creation by choosing to grasp onto  the secular banner of "meism." The Bible has their number--literally. It had it then and it has it now.
For me, as a writer, the Bible also has the best writing prompts...especially if you are having trouble getting the words to flow from your brain to the screen or paper. The Gospel reading from August 26 is a prime example of how my brain can get 'jump-started'. This jolt came from  Matthew 23: 27-32. (I'm just using 27 -28.) Here it is:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing."
There are actually seven "Woe to you" paragraphs in Chapter 23. I quoted number six  because it was part of the Gospel reading for the day. Anyway, the first thing that came to mind was Planned Parenthood. Think about it: "beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing." I immediately thought of the people destroying the lives of babies and joking about it. I thought of all those defending  this organization and insist that those who would  vilify it are taking away women's health protections. There are many in high places that certainly appear beautiful on the outside and, since I do not get to look inside, I can only imagine. I do know this: abortion is the Holocaust of the last four decades.
In America, marriage between a man and a woman is being denigrated by the beautiful, sophisticated, upscale and highly civilized secular community. Same-sex "marriage" is hailed as a right and the enhancement of freedom. Rejecting one's God-given sex and deciding to change to the opposite sex is hailed as heroic and courageous. Legalizing euthanasia has taken root in Europe and in America. In Belgium they now permit childhood euthanasia. I could go on and on but you all know what has and is happening. And many of those who proclaim Catholicism as their faith  approve of these practices.
I am amazed that it has taken me so long to realize the magnificence and page-to-page wisdom the Bible holds. So much of Scripture defines the present. It describes us and our world. It tells us how and where are journey began, where it has taken us, and where we are going. It is a great gift and I shall never ignore it again. It is also the one and only book I will reference when seeking out writing prompts. The Bible has it all. If you have not tried you should check it out. It is a GREAT READ.
©2015 Larry Peterson-All RightsReserved


August 26, 2015

'Participation' Trophies; No Different Than 'Participation' Letters

My son and his son: Little League Baseball

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I coached/managed Little League Baseball for many years. At the end of every season every kid on the team received a trophy at our annual dinner or picnic or whatever else the league decided to sponsor that year. Giving a trophy to each  player, no matter how good or bad or clumsy or geeky they were,  was always the right thing to do.

It was for 'participation' and participation meant each young person was a part of something special, that being the team. Most importantly, it signified effort and commitment and sacrifice on each child's part to win a spot on a team. There were tryouts that  required coming to the field and 'showing what you got' to the coaches who were lined up holding clipboards and observing. Then the kids were drafted and placed on a team.

The new teammates would meet, be introduced to each other by the coaches and then begin practicing. Practices could be three or four nights a week (maybe more). Then followed the season and so forth. The kids invariably became friends, learned teamwork and camaraderie, and win or lose, at the end of the season they had all been part of something. The bottom line was---they had committed  and followed through.

Some players were outstanding young athletes. Others could not remember the correct way to hold a bat in their hands. It did not matter. The kids always knew who the prime players were and who were not. Those who were not, always got at least one AB (at bat) and played two innings per game. That is why they all received a 'participation' trophy. They earned it. They came to practices, sweated like everyone else, and then rode the bench for most of the season. The outstanding players received individual awards. One player was usually awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy and one was awarded a plaque for having the highest batting average or most home runs. The other kids were always fine with that because they knew it was the right thing to do.

Look, every high school and college athlete in the country gets a 'Letter' when he or she participates all season in a school activity. Participants in baseball, football, basketball, band, gymnastics, wrestling, track, and so on are awarded 'Letters'. Some players rarely get off the bench to play. But they earned a spot on the team and received a 'Letter' just like everyone else.Then they would get 'Letterman' jacket and have the letter sewn on it. When they wear their jacket they are representing their team and their school. They are proud of it. They were a part of something special. Many people actually keep their Letterman jackets their entire lives and they may never have gotten off the bench when they were players. But they had made the team and were part of it and nothing can ever change that fact.

There are extremes in this politically correct--'don't hurt anyone's feelings environment' that exists today. Recognition for earning straight A's and making Principles List or getting all A's and B's and making Honor Roll is a GOOD thing; yet some schools do not want to give that recognition. But they fail to realize that the other kids can use that as a goal to attain. This is extreme and a failure to teach young people that reward and consequence are a part of life. There are even some sports programs where they have decided not to keep score so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. Life is filled with 'ups and downs' and they are depriving the children of this valuable lesson.

What youth sports primarily teaches is teamwork and socialization skills. It helps develop lasting friendships. If some of the overbearing 'my kid is perfect' parents would stay home and leave their kid(s) alone we might all be better off.
                                     
                            ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

August 16, 2015

The Eighth Amendment---SCOTUS says: It Allows for Adaptation Based on "Evolving Standards of Decency''

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The Associated Press has reported that the Connecticut Supreme Court has decided the death penalty "no longer meets society's evolving standards of decency. My brain locked up as I found myself stuck on the word "decency". Decency, decency, decency---a smack in the head from my own hand jumped the needle to 'evolving standards'. Sorry, all the words together were "evolving standards of decency".

Smarty pants that I am I googled "evolving standards of decency". I expected a 'nothing available' response. Ta-da--not so.  A bunch of stuff popped up. It seems that the "evolving standards of decency" is part of the Eighth Amendment .  I had no idea. It seems that the Supreme Court had declared our Constitution  a "living" document in 1958.  That is when the Constitution became  subject to change as society developed further from whence it came. Oh me, oh my--egg was on my face.

If I was still back in 1965 I would not have paused for a moment giving those words a second thought. Back then, there existed an accepted 'mode of decency'. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Jim and Margaret Anderson did not even share a TV bed. They slept in twin beds. I'm not sure if Ozzie and Harriet ever allowed us into their bedroom. Men gave up their seats to women and held doors open for them. The words; "excuse me", "thank you", "may I", and "please" were used commonly. But that was 1965 and now it is 2015. What has fifty years of  "evolving standards of decency" in our civilized, sophisticated world, a world that includes such TV shows as "Naked & Afraid", brought us? Just think about it.

One thing I have never been able to wrap my head around is the right to "Freedom of Expression". If you want to burn and stomp on the American Flag go ahead, burn and stomp away. According to the SCOTUS,  that is a "right" under the Constitution. But show me where 'Freedom of Expression' is written into the U.S. Constiution? It is not in the Constitution. Freedom of Speech is. That means we are free to speak (you know, use words that come from our mouths as we so choose.) Back in the day, when "decency" was the norm, we did not use every conceivable expletive known to mankind in public, over the airwaves, and especially on the 'big screen' at will. We had this strange notion that we needed to set a good example for our children. We had a modicum of civility and respect toward each other, even when we were 'offended'.

Since the SCOTUS approved this concept of 'evolving standards of decency' it holds true that (IMHO), based on personal opinion and outside political pressure, The Constitution, a document written and designed to give rights to the people before any government, has been forever weakened and can never be the protective document it was meant to be. And  We, the People, did it to ourselves. How? We are the ones who vote and it all starts there.

                                              ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

August 8, 2015

The Little Heart Kept Beating---Beating, Beating, Beating: Then it Stopped

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

(As the parent of a daughter who was stillborn on September 6, 1978, I am fully cognizant of the LIFE that was lost to us and her siblings. My wife (who passed away from cancer in 2003) almost died that day in a valiant attempt to get to a Catholic hospital so the baby might be baptized. That is a story for another time but, as a man, I understand the insanity of treating tiny people in-utero as nothing more than "products of conception". Trust me--they are not. They are people, just like us--only a lot smaller.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The reports about Planned Parenthood's calculating, impersonal and clinically callous disposal and sale of aborted baby parts is so hard for me to fathom. Many folks feel as I do, that these actions are simply heinous. Now, with the latest revelations of Planned Parenthood's actually selling the complete cadavers of aborted babies for profit, we may have equaled the Nazis in an unparalleled cold-hardheartedness. In fact, since these tiny people have no-one to save them once they enter the sanitized and legalized death camps spread all across America, maybe we have become the most heartless and ruthless generation of all time.

What is so astonishing is that so many folks do not see anything wrong with participating in a holocaust that has claimed more than fifty million lives. Many of these people seem to be no different than me. They work,  pay their bills, mow their lawns, and celebrate Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Yes, and they go to church and pray too.

There are many notables among them including a sitting president, the leading Democratic presidential contender and many more "upstanding"  people such as the former Speaker of the House, and the former Senate Majority leader. There are  academicians, professional people, doctors, lawyers, even clergy and many others. The proof and fact of LIFE in-utero is all around them yet they deny it. I do not understand.

They may look like me and walk like me and laugh like me and like pizza like me but none of them are like me. For I am sickened by the actions that they condone. Yet they consider these same actions as a "constitutional right".  Maybe they need to listen to a non-American, Stojan Adasevic, a Serbian  abortionist responsible for over 48,000 abortions and  the 'regular' work day that changed his life forever. These are a few of his words (the rest are in the video trailer, The First Hour, and the following link .)

"As I pull out the mess, thinking it will be bone fragments I lay it on the cloth, I
look, and I see a human heart, contracting and expanding and beating, beating, beating.
I thought I would go mad. I can see the heartbeat is slowing, ever more slowly, and 
more slowly still, until it finally stops completely. Nobody could have seen what I
had seen with my very own eyes, and be more convinced than I was---
I had killed a human being.

Stojan Adasevic became the first abortionist in communist Yugoslavia to refuse to do abortions. His salary was cut, his daughter fired from her job and his son refused admission to the university. Most of us never had to destroy a child, no less 48,000 or more, before realizing we were murdering children. But in the war being waged by Satan, the master of lies and deception, sometimes his influence is so great and the deception so pronounced it takes many years of flowing graces from God before that door is cracked open and the light begins to enter. In Stojan's case the  light was brought to him personally by St. Thomas Aquinas. Click on Stojan's name and read his story. 

Some information for this story was from LifeSiteNews (Abortion; August 5,2015 by Sarah Terzo)and I thank them for giving me permission to reference it. 


                                    ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

July 31, 2015

The "Shameful Silence"---It Honors Evil

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson                                                         


"Silence in the face of evil is evil itself."   Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler.  His book, "The Cost of Discipleship", has become a classic.  Focusing on the "Sermon on the Mount", the book more or less spelled out what Bonhoeffer thought was the true way to follow Christ.  In addition to his theological writings and teaching, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a staunch, anti Nazi dissident.  He spoke out vigorously against Hitler's euthanasia and genocidal persecution of the Jews and, in so doing, became a hated enemy of the Third Reich. As such, he was arrested in April, 1943. Accused of the ambiguous crime of "plotting against the Nazis", he was hanged on April 9, 1945.
                                                                
Moving ahead to the year 2014: The following is a statement from His Grace, Bishop Suriel of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Diocese of  Melbourne from one year ago:
"The world watches in silence as the last Christians are expelled from Mosul, Iraq, in one of the most merciless and barbaric acts of genocide we have seen in the 21st  Century."

We are absolutely fascinating creatures, we humans are.  Many of our species can be so kind and compassionate, loving and gentle, sweet and understanding.  Many people will save a tiny bird with an injured wing or a cat stuck up in a tree. There is a world-wide outrage going on directed at a dentist who killed a lion. There are  so many people who  will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and give drink to the thirsty. One thing about the animal kingdom: the different species are predictable. One thing about we human beings: we are not. 

 You flip the coin and you have many of the very same species who are filled with a self-gratification which culminates in a hate and disdain for others of their own kind.  These include those who will torture and kill their fellow humans because they HATE their:  religion, skin color, birthplace,  political beliefs or whatever other self-serving, hate-filled reason a murderer may come up with.  Many kill and torture saying they were "only following orders" and had no choice. Others kill because of pride fueled by envy and greed. 

Planned Parenthood, a non-profit, government funded organization, employs people who  perform over 320,000 abortions a year on babies of ALL sizes. They even sell their body parts for profit and say "it is LEGAL". Barely a word is said by many folks who are part of the main stream media (print & broadcast). The leading Democratic candidate for President of the U.S. says that those reports are "disturbing". Are you kidding me! Disturbing! How about heinous, hateful and/or murderous.  So I ask why? Why the "Shameful Silence" from so many?

 Why are we, all of the same species, so different in our hearts?  How can some of us kill and others forgive them for doing so?   Why do some of us willingly and joyfully give of ourselves for people we may not even know?  Why do some of us  hate others they may not even know?  Why are there those who love their fellow human being unconditionally?  And why the "Shameful Silence" from so many? The answer has to be because of the very existence  of  "Good vs Evil" that is always trying to invade our very souls. Many people fight back and conquer the invader. Many others give in and welcome him and embrace his twisted deception. 

What is "Good vs Evil"?  I can tell you what it is and I do not care if you disagree. It  is the war waged by Satan and those that follow him against the God of Love that created him and all of his followers.  If you take a breath and look at the world of today and then glance back at yesterday and the centuries before, what has changed in the hearts of man? Apparently, not very much. Love and Hatred have danced "toe to toe" since Cain slew his brother Abel.  Why did that happen? Pride and envy. What drives the evil of today? Pride and envy.

God is real and Satan is real. God is the Creator of the Universe and the Master of Goodness and Love.  His most beautiful creation, Satan (aka Lucifer) thought he was greater than God and turned against Him. He was cast from God's presence by those angels that stayed true to their Creator. Filled with an unimaginable hatred for all that is good, Satan and his minions prowl the earth fomenting lies and deception to all who will listen. He and his fallen angels have used their cunning to gain entrance into the hearts of those who, before all else, love themselves. These are the easy prey for the king of deceit. And, there is a gaggle of easy prey available, especially in today's secularly charged world dominated by 'meism'. 

Mosul,  the very cradle of Christianity, can trace the followers of Jesus back to the first century.  As of today it seems that the entire Christian population of Mosul has been purged from this ancient and historic city.  Murder, including the beheadings of civilians and the wanton murder of women and children, has virtually eradicated the city's Christians.  And what did we see and hear from the print and broadcast media a year ago?  We heard the sound of almost nothing. What do we hear today about the atrocities of killing pre-born babies and selling their body parts under the guise of "savings lives"?  We hear the sound of almost nothing. A "Shameful  Silence" from many seems to reverberate throughout world when persecution is running rampant.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it, "Silence in the face of evil is evil itself."  He was hanged by the Nazis for his "crimes" over 70 years ago.  What has changed? The press was quiet then as the Nazis purged the world of the "hated Jew".  Most of the main stream media (print and broadcast) has been quiet as theIslamists purge the world of the "hated Christian".  There are many people in the United States of America, who go to work every day and kill living babies in utero and sell their body parts and have no problem whatsoever doing it because, as the Nazi workers said so many years ago, "it was legal". 

Josef Goebbels was the propaganda minister for Adolf Hitler and made sure the press and broadcast media kept news of the Nazi Final Solution quiet. There existed a Shameful Silence. That Shameful Silence among  many is apparently alive and well in 2015, right here in the USA. Nothing has changed, nothing at all. 

                                               ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved


July 26, 2015

Planets, Dr. Seuss and Snowflakes---Combined Proof That There is a CREATOR

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Nine and a half years ago NASA's New Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion plus miles New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don't know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.
Planet PLUTO--3 thousand million miles from Earth (3 billion)
Let's move past Pluto. It seems NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has found a possible 'exoplanet'; something worlds beyond our puny solar system. This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.  The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this--it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is--how can  we know these things?

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I'm going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Yet Kepler 452b is more than  a thousand "light years" away and our scientists know it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

 What about Earth? How much of what Earth does do we take for granted? Well, here is one thing it does that we never think about but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. That is TIME. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. Imagine if there were random hours in a day. Yeah, right. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? Enough---let's just take it for what it is. MIND BOGGLING.

What about explosions? (Please bear with me--I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. This past Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul,  the all-pro defensive star for the NFL's N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. He will be out indefinitely.  C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are--well, ZERO.

So now--to the point.  The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning.  They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do.  To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it "popped" spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Everything around us is perfect. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. I know who that  Person is even though  I cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All I have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow...or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, "Horton Hears a Who". Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton's, "Whoville". Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands.  I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss's book; "a persons a person no matter how small". Maybe those very "smart" people who reject what must be so, need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).
                           
                                           ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

July 17, 2015

Goodbye "Little Bro"--You and Your Watermelon are Forever in Our Hearts

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

The picture to the right was taken at my daughter's wedding and it was a happy day. Facing the picture, the young fellow on the left is my "baby" brother, Johnny. The one to his left in the back is my brother, Bobby. I am to the far right, my sister, Carolyn, is in front of me and my brother, Danny, is to her left in front of Bobby. The young man with the silly grin on his face is my son, Larry Jr. who was really having a "good" time. The little guy is my grandson, Darren. He is now in college.

I posted this photo because there are very few photos of the five of us together.  There has been a lot of death in our family over the years. Bobby died in 2007 from cardiac failure. He was 53. Carolyn's husband, Bob, died back in 1993. He had a brain-stem tumor. He was almost 53. My wife, Loretta, died (melanoma) in 2003. She was 58. Danny's wife, Annie, died (emphysema) last April. She was 64. Our mom died at 40 from leukemia. Our dad died at 53 from Pancreatitis. We had a stillborn daughter, Theresa. Her life span ended while entering the world.  And then, the other day, our brother Johnny, (I also called him "Little Bro" and he called me, "Big Bro") died. He was 56. Unlike the others, Johnny's death was self-inflicted. This I do not understand. Therefore, I have turned  it over to God....totally.

It  is a beautiful thing when you do have an abiding faith in the God above to help you climb over the rubble of life. And yes, this left a serious pile of rubble for sure. I will not analyze or try to figure out "what happened".  I just ask anyone who might read this to say a prayer for "Little Bro" and for his wife and family. We have the peace of knowing that Johnny is now with his most loving and merciful Father and is in "GOOD HANDS".

Also, maybe say a prayer for me. I am unable to attend Johnny's funeral today and I am quite "in the dumps" about it. I should be with the rest of my family. However, being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient (my wife) can sometimes leave you unable to act on unexpected life situations. I will go to 8 a.m. Mass in my parish and I will be OK.

Anyway, today we say GOOD-BYE to the "baby" of the family. It is a hard day for all of us but God and His Son and our Brother, Jesus, do have our backs.  WE will feel their comfort and the loving hand of Mother Mary will guide us along.  Love you "Little Bro".
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PART II

Our dear cousin, Vicki Nelson, had a wonderful memory of Johnny back when he was seven years old. She wrote an essay about it and it came straight from her heart and I am posting it now--in honor of "Little Bro".  Thank you Vicki.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Watermelon Story
  by Vicki Nelson


To look at him that summer morning, no one would ever guess he had a care in the world. And in that moment, I suppose he didn't. Still, it must have been confusing for him. Here he was ‐ a seven‐year old kid from the Bronx suddenly transplanted with his eleven year old brother for the summer in his uncle's new house in the New Jersey suburbs. The brothers were recently orphaned after a short span of time where first their mom, then their grandma, and finally their dad died. The two boys had three older siblings, one of whom was a bonafied teenager and the oldest two were barely old enough to be considered real grown‐ups. How it was going to work out, no one really knew. Uncle Larry had four kids of his own, plus a wife and mother‐in‐law to support. He had just bought a larger house to accommodate his growing family and they barely had two nickels to rub together in those days. He was a one man show with his nuts and bolts business that was touch and go lately. Still he did what he could for his sister's kids. He was their beloved Uncle Larry even if he did live in Jersey.

And in Jersey, everyone had lawns. Having a lawn and then complaining about cutting the grass was the main reason people moved across the Hudson River. Uncle Larry had not put in the backyard lawn yet. Hundreds of weeds needed pulling and rocks needed removing. The earth was soft, however, and Aunt Gloria promised to pay each working kid a penny a weed ‐ easy work for a bountiful harvest that awaited. Brother Bobby got the bright idea to remove some of the leaves from each weed thereby maximizing his profit for each weed. Aunt Gloria, originally a city kid from New York herself, quickly wised up to the shenanigans and so we all picked weeds for free from then on. I don't really remember how the next part came about ‐ maybe we just finally had enough land to do it. Or maybe it was just that we were already outside so much anyway, digging in the dirt and pulling weeds. Somebody got the idea to plant our own vegetable garden so we picked a nice flat spot way out back and sowed seeds from little packets. We planted the usual ‐ tomatoes and zucchini and bell pepper plants and ‐ Johnny's special request ‐ watermelons.

New Jersey is the Garden State and our plants just grew like crazy. The watermelon plants grew hundreds of leaves that spread out all over the place. Johnny would jump out of bed first thing every morning and run to the garden patch in hopes of spotting his first watermelon. The tomatoes eventually turned red, the bell peppers and zucchini grew in abundance too.  Meanwhile, Aunt Gloria was beginning to suspect that the watermelons were not going to produce much more than green leaves. So she planned a little surprise for Johnny.

The next morning, like clockwork, Johnny ran out the back door to check on his watermelon patch. In a few minutes we could all hear his ‘hootin' and ‘hollerin.' "I got one! I got one! I got my very own watermelon! Everybody ‐ come look!!!" 

We could see him from the window. He jumped up and down, hopping from one foot to the other with that blond curly hair bouncing and his blue eyes shining.

We all went running out the back door to meet him as he continued jumping with that toothless seven year old grin, as he proudly displayed the roundest most beautiful little Sugar Baby watermelon any of us had ever seen in our entire lives. Of course we older kids were in on it but congratulated Johnny heartily on his superior gardening skills and his prize watermelon. He just beamed from ear to ear. Aunt Gloria put it in the fridge so it would be a nice cold dessert on that hot, summer night.

I will never forget his little face or for a moment, the sheer happiness and delight that one watermelon could bring to one small boy. He never forgot it, either. Many years later, when we reconnected over the telephone after going our separate ways for a long time the way adults just do, we spoke with delight of the watermelon story again.
And just for that moment, remembering, we were those two kids again. Rest in Peace, Johnny. You and your watermelon are forever in my heart.
Love from your cousin,
  Vicki

July 12, 2015

We Christians and Jews are Bound Together by Spiritual DNA

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

When I was growing up in the Bronx we lived on the third floor  in a five story walk-up on Sherman Ave. There were eight of us in a four room apartment. In the apartment below lived  Leo and Sophie Rabinowitz.  Quite often, in the middle of the night,  blood-curdling screams filled the back alley  and our apartment and the hallways outside. The screams were coming from the Rabinowitz’s. It was Sophie. She was having recurring nightmares. But Leo was the landlord and no one dared complain about the eery  howls that constantly reached the ears of so many. There was one man,  however,  who could not leave this alone. That man was my father.


I remember that Friday night long ago very well. The screaming started about midnight. It was September and the windows  were still open because it was hot and the screaming seemed exceptionally chilling. Dad got up and my brother, Danny, whispered from his bed, “I think he’s going down there.”

We got up and followed him and, without hesitating, Dad walked up to Leo’s  apartment door and began banging on it with his fist. We watched from the stairs as the door slowly opened. Leo poked his head out and just like that my father was embracing this little Jewish man who had buried his head in Dad’s chest  crying unashamedly. My brother and I crouched down, and peeking from the landing above,  were stunned.  Then Dad disappeared into that apartment with Leo Rabinowitz and did not leave for several hours.

Sophie Rabinowitz was having nightmares all right, recurring nightmares of her two boys, ages 12 and 9, being clubbed to death by the Nazis as they made her and Leo watch. Try as I may, I cannot  imagine what those moments in their lives were like. They were loving parents and were helpless, unable to save their very own children as godless people clubbed them to death simply because they were Jewish. The Nazis tortured the parents  further by allowing them to live. Such evil can only come into people and be accepted by them if coming from the very bowels of "Hell" itself.
My father has been dead for many years but he is still teaching me about being Catholic today. How? Through the gospel reading  from Matthew 5:1-12---aka The Sermon on the Mount. This is when Jesus, a Jewish man, gave  the world The Beatitudes. The one that always grabs me is #2, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I remember that Friday night long ago. I remember how a Catholic man reached out to his Jewish neighbor and how they became friends. My father became their  ‘comforter’ who initiated the mourning process for Leo and Sophie. They had never mourned their boys. They had "stuffed the nightmare" and tried to go on living. This was the first time they had ever confronted what had happened.  Reliving  the sadness and horror also released a sense of beauty that shone through it for it united them in a renewed marital bond that had been missing for close to twenty years. They now became each other's strength.
 We Catholics read and hear during the Mass what is called the Roman Canon  (aka First Eucharistic Prayer). The following words are said by the priest prior to the words of consecration: “In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, —–and all your saints.”  I ask you, were not all of those mentioned, Jewish? Yes..they were, ABSOLUTELY. There is no denying this fact. They are all canonized saints and their Judaism was always part of who they were and it all extrapolated into who we Catholic/Christians are today. We Jews and Christians are joined forever by Spiritual DNA.

Finally, let me mention our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  The Pope is very good friends with one of the primary Jewish leaders in Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka.  In October of 2012, he presented to Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. It was the first time such an honor had been bestowed on any Jewish man in all of Latin America. Upon presenting the award to Rabbi Skorka, the Pope (then Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio) said, “You cannot imagine how long I have waited for this moment.” We all should learn from this for it was a genuinely profound moment in history.

It is now 2015 and Judaism and Christianity are under attack all over the world including in the United States of America. It is in our face. We have had the the absolute luxury of practicing our religions and worshiping as we so chose for as long as any of us can remember. There have always been those who hated someone for being Jewish or Catholic or a Jehovah Witness or a Quaker for that matter. No matter, we had the law on our side and it was called the First Amendment to the Constitution.  All of us, Jews and Christians alike, need to pray and work together that it remains just that.

                                      ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Resereved

July 2, 2015

Another Secularist "Triumph": Say Good-Bye to Laura---She says, "Life is Not for ME"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Her  name is Laura and she is 24 years old. She is a healthy woman who lives in Belgium. She wants to die. Why does she want to die? Because, as she says, "Life, that's not for me."

My initial reaction was, "Oh my God, this young woman is severely depressed or on drugs. Whatever  happened to her that would lead her to a feeling of wanting DEATH? She is 24 years old and healthy. She has a whole life ahead of her. This story is all over the print and broadcast media. Why isn't someone helping her?"

Isn't there anyone who has offered to give her the necessary counseling, spiritual guidance, or anti-depressants to help her see that her own "life" is not her enemy? Is there no-one who might convince her that  her  life is a  one of a kind precious gift?  Is there no one to prevail upon her that her life  is rarer than the rarest diamond and  more valuable than all the world's riches combined?  Cannot someone show her that she is the only one in the history of the world who is SHE or will ever be SHE?  Well my friends, Laura lives in Belgium and apparently in that country not too many people give a damn about the value or sanctity of life.

In February of 2014, Belgium approved legalized euthanasia for children . I believe this supposedly sophisticated, civilized, and pompous nation has earned the title The Great Nation of  Self-Annihilators. In Belgium you are witnessing Nihilism in all of its twisted "splendor". This is encapsulated in the total rejection of the value of life as witnessed in the upcoming assisted suicide of Laura.

 How sad, how disgraceful, how blatantly sinful. Doctors have given Laura the go-ahead to kill herself. They will help her to be "successful". Why would doctors do this? In Belgium many of them feel that life and death are really not such a big deal in the first place. Laura says that she has been considering  suicide since the age of six. Are you kidding me!  She says that she was ONLY six when she started thinking that she "didn't want to live at all". It is hard to even fathom such thoughts bouncing around inside the head of a six year old who has not even reached the age of reason.

Laura has had psychological problems her entire life. In high school she was a "cutter" self-mutilating her arms. Her father had been an abusive drunk and her mother had left when she was a toddler. She grew up with her grandparents who loved her dearly but maybe the trauma of her parents' behavior was too much for her and drove her into depression. It does not matter. What matters is that this child had problems and no-one gave a damn. She was left to grow with a festering and debilitating sense of "nothingness". Now they want to help her kill herself. This is Nihilism run amok.

Laura has told doctors that  she needs to kill herself because, as she says, "life, that's not for me". They readily agreed and Laura has now set a date for her death injection to be administered in her apartment. The actual date is unknown. She is planning her funeral and writing final words to be read. Doctors and mental health professionals are happily helping her along on her death journey.  I cannot get it out of my head that she is only 24 years old and healthy and doctors are gladly helping her to kill herself simply because she asked them to help her do it. Whatever has  happened to the moral fiber of people around the world?

Secularism has infested the entire world with its self-fulfilling message of false happiness. Belgium, a country that is 75% Catholic, voted 2 to 1 to pass the child-euthanasia law. The bishops in the country begged them not to vote for it. It did not matter. The attitude of many people is: What do God's representatives know about real life? For that matter, what does God know about real life?  If poor Laura wants to kill herself to be happy, why not. And then they go to church. WHATEVER!

Well now, if you do not have God in your life  and believe that death leads to nothing then you probably find comfort in believing that "nothing" cannot hurt you. It follows that being dead will make you happy. How sad and perverse is this?  But it proves one thing. While the secular world fights to eliminate God from our lives it is God who is desperately needed back in their lives. For with God comes Hope and Love and when a person has that Faith in their lives they are not asking compliant strangers with fancy diplomas to help them die. Especially when they are only 24 and filled with life.
                                           
                                           ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

June 27, 2015

And What About the Children?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The headline of the Tampa Tribune this morning (Saturday, June 27) was emblazoned with huge, bold letters that read,  "Pride & Joy".  The Tampa Bay Times shouted, "A Right For All".   The Supremes have spoken and their decision is in the books. According to the headlines, the world is rejoicing. I just wish someone could tell me about the children. What about the children?

We all have an inherent need to know our background and where we came from. How often do we hear and/or participate in conversations about our grandparents and great-great grandparents and so forth. We will delight in talking about accomplishments of our dads and our moms. We revel in tales  about uncles and aunts and grandparents and their grandparents and where they came from and their achievements.

War heroes, professional baseball players, movie actors, surgeons, jet fighter pilots, musicians, and a myriad list of very different people proudly (and sometimes not) fill the family lore of millions of families. Even adopted children have a need to know their roots. As they get older this need blossoms and they invariably begin a quest to find their birth-parents. It is all about "WHO I AM". And--they have an absolute right to know. They need to be "complete". Knowing their own family blood-line can fulfill that completion. That is just the way it is. It is an instinct, it is natural, it is GOOD. None of us came from a "cabbage-patch".

So, I ask again, what about the children? Yes, now that The SCOTUS has legalized the three parent family in the United States of America, what about the children that will be brought into families with same-sex parents? No matter what rule five empowered lawyers pass they cannot ever change the fact that a child must be the result of the procreation of a man and a woman. An infant may be brought home to two "married men" or two "married women" as their own child but is it really?   There is a third parent out there somewhere.

Heterosexual couples who adopt become a mom and a dad.  How does it work in a same-sex environment? Is the man who provides the sperm considered the father? Does the woman who provides the uterus for the sperm become the mother? When the child arrives at an age where they ask, "what can you tell me about my birth-mom or birth-dad", how is that handled? Will the sperm donor from 20 years ago be willing to  come forward? What happens when two married women break up? Who gets custody? Do they keep accurate records of all donors?

Will a new "cottage industry" pop up for supplying sperm and eggs to people who might have a disease and cannot get approval to acquire sperm? What if one of the "marrieds" decides that maybe they are not homosexual and want to take up with the opposite sex? And let us not forget genetic predisposition. Will the children of these "marriages" have their actual blood line available so they might be able to use genetic markers to see if they are predisposed to diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease, and even autism or mental illness? It reverts back to the question; what about the children? What does this do to the children?

There is an  irrefutable fact of life and this is it. From the beginning of time, man and woman knew that marriage was peculiar to male and female. It is as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. We, as a species, have a need to survive. Continuing the human race is part of that survival instinct. Individual men and women are naturally attracted to each other and when they are they join together to form a family that reproduces and continues the species. It is the way of things and has been so for millennia. A ruling by five people cannot ever change natural law.

Children have "rights" too. And it seems to me that one of these basic rights is to be raised by a female mom and a male dad who have willingly joined together and started a family. Only as  unique human beings of the opposite sex can this be done. I wish no malice to gay people. I do not hate gay people. I wish them all the best. If they choose to have a life together, so be it. But, in my opinion, this gay marriage revolution has forgotten about the children. They are an after-thought. Gay marriage is all about secularism's  mantra of self-gratification. But what about the children?

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2015  All Rights Reserved